lake winni museum logo
Like Us On
Preserving the History & Heritage of Lake Winnipesaukee & Vicinity



Return to WinnipesaukeeReturn to Main History


Reprinted from Where to in the Lakes Region of NH

If you are interested in boating as a pleasure, means to go where the fish are or just a means of transportation, come to New Hampshire's Lakes Region. Ever since the Indian and his birch bark canoe explored the shining waters there has been a steady increase in the number and variety of water craft.

The New Hampshire Public Service Commission in the early 20th century commenced a program of navagational aids. Buoys now mark channels in all the larger bodies of water, and flashing buoys are seldom out of sight at night. The Commission governs and controls lake traffic, and is supported by modest license fee for all motor craft.

Motorboating on the lakes has a long and colorful history, starting with small steam launches and horse boats, (propelled by a horse on a treadmill), and developing through the naptha launch stage to modern outboards, pleasure boats, fast runabouts and cabin cruisers. The cabin cruiser on inland waters was once a cause for scorn on the part of the salt water man, but there is an ever increasing number of families who come to Winnipesaukee and live on their boats. One group in particular is the Winter Harbor Yacht Club, who feature group cruises, rendezvousing at some predetermined anchorage perhaps twenty miles from their home base, staying over night and having dinner the next day at some lake shore inn.

However, it doesn't take a chrome-plated cruiser burining umpty-gallons of gas an hour to have real enjoyment on the lakes. Anyone with a model 1903 Water Weasel outboard hung on the transom of twelve foot Rears and Sawbuck skiff is in for all the fun of exploring hundreds of islands, sandy beaches and isolated coves. You can go back to the canoe of the Indian (we've found through sad experience how easy it is to put your foot through birch bark, so we recommend a standard wood and canvas one or perhaps one of the new tangled aluminum jobs) to go gliding along as silently as Hiawatha.

Sailing has progressed by leaps and bounds in popularity in the last few years. It is safe to say that there are over three hundred sailboats on Lakes Ossipee, Winnisquam, Winnipesaukee, P'augus, Newfound, Squam, Wentworth, Great East, Mirror, Crescent, Merrymeeting, and Rust Pond. Class boats range from Snipes, Comets, Winnipesaukee One Designs (built by the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club in 1938) sixteen-foot and eighteen foot Winn-abouts, Lightning and Stars, to thirty-foot auxiliary cutters.

The Winnipesaukee Yacht Club, which sponsors sailing races every Sunday in the summer, was founded as a sailing club in 1937. A clubhouse was started in 1938, finished in 1939 at Varney Point in Gilford, and in 1943 a new site was purchased at Dockham Shore, for a more elaborate clubhouse and lockers for members. While the highly competitive Sunday races appeal to the younger sailors, many of the married couples have found the overnight cruises fun. Anywhere from eight to twenty boats will start out Saturday afternoon, and the crews will spend Saturday night ashore, camping out, or, if their boats have sleeping accommodations, they stay on board for the night. Sunday sees a continuation to some destination, where short races may be held, and then return Sunday night. Of course there are the purists, who refuse to carry an outboard motor in case the wind goes down, but they can usually be persuaded to be taken in tow by someone who has a "stink-pot."

Fastest lake sport is iceboating in the winter. My, you say, that must be awfully dangerous! Well, people have iceboated for we-don't-know-how-many-years and we have yet to hear of a really serious accident. The Abenaki Outing Club of Wolfeboro sponsors its iceboating division, and sailing speeds of sixty to eighty miles per hour are not uncommon. (As a matter of fact there is a dispute on as to whether the existing iceboat speed record is 130 or 136 miles per hour.) This, of course, is the sailing iceboat and not any mechanically driven affair. The newer boats are built with airplane type fuselages and protected cockpits, so the crew is really quite comfortable when equipped with helmet, goggles and windproof clothing. Verily, this sport is "Wings on Ice."

Home | About Us | Museum | News | History | Bingo | Shop | Membership | Contact | You Can Help!

The Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society is a non-profit organization.